Southamptons new administrator, highly regarded for his man-management and tactical nous, preoccupies about the damage succes can impose on players hunger
There were around 40 people on the coaching course Mauricio Pellegrino took when he was a musician at Valencia in 1999 and he wanted to know what it was that moved them to be there, so he did something he has done ever since football took him from his home in the Argentinian pampas: he asked and he listened. There were all sorts of reasons but amazingly few matched his. For some, it was just something to do. For others, it was about money, just a undertaking. Not for Pellegrino. He asked a friend there whether he would take it if a tiny third divide fraternity came for him. No, he said. Coachings not your vocation, then, Pellegrino replied.
It is Pellegrinos. Had it not been for football I would never have left home, he once mentioned. He was a little introverted, at least to start with, and one former team-mate says football is his life while he told a player who worked under him that through football he found a route to express himself. Especially through coaching, his calling. He has emerged and evolved over the years but even as a musician he was a manager. Louis van Gaal once told: Hell make a great coach. Although Pellegrino was not pleased, joking that signified the Dutchman did not think he was much of a centre-back, Van Gaal is not a boy paid attention to handing out praises and he knew he was right.
Pellegrino did not ever think he was much of a musician, either: he was too tall, too skinny, too clumsy, he had problems with his back. But there was something about him that team-mates and coach-and-fours appreciated that took him to Barcelona, Valencia and Liverpool, and a coaching job that now brings him to Southampton via Spain and Argentina. He builds you think, his former centre-back spouse Roberto Ayala mentions. He induces himself think, too, particularly about others.
The goalkeeper Santi Caizares, a team-mate at Valencia, tells: He shared his experience with everyone: he listened and advised, analysed, put himself into people skins: he was practically a psychologist. He was not our best centre-back but he was the centre-back the coach-and-four most valued. He ever had a positive position, he had no resentment at all , no anger, it was always, always about the team. He understood tactically, he was obsessed with the team, he took responsibility: too much. He was ashamed by defeat. Ive known very few musicians like that. He has three things: unbelievable humility, complete professionalism and he never celebrated victory.
Pellegrino once admitted: Football was my school of life but I had a big deficit as a musician: I didnt enjoy it. Now he belief he can help players do so and he has changed a little but that mind played a part in shaping him. In Argentina football is cultural, he explained to El Pas . Losing is a drama; winning is only good because it entails not losing. The social abandonment “youre feeling” when you lose stimulates us very competitive. Winning, by contrast, blunts your rim and avoiding that is something that preoccupies him. Preoccupies him, according to one friend.
Caizares shared that attitude and laments its loss in the game but laughs where reference is recollects Pellegrino asking before the 2001 Champions League final: What if we win? How will we get our humility back? Bloody hell, Flaco , he responded. Let merely win first, yeah?
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